When she graduated with a double major in electrical engineering and computer science in 2016, Rajia Abdelaziz (along with business partner Raymond Hamilton ’17) had already secured thousands of dollars for the company the pair started while students. She turned down impressive job offers (sorry, Google!) to continue to grow her startup invisaWear. The company makes smart necklaces, bracelets and keychains whose panic-button technology can save lives— like that of a woman involved in a car crash on the Lowell Connector in February. Seriously injured, Jenelle Valdina says she was ”praying to God not to die.” No one who stopped to help could reach 911, due to connection problems. Valdina pushed the invisaWear charm that she had been gifted weeks before and crews arrived within minutes.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO HAVE HELPED SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE?
Words can’t describe how great it feels to know a product you poured your heart and soul into creating helped a person during a very difficult time. I’ll never forget the moment Jenelle called us from the hospital after she got out of surgery. The first thing she said was, “Thank you for saving my life.”
HOW WAS INVISAWEAR BORN?
Many women feel that things like pepper spray aren’t a reliable source of protection. After looking at products online, everything was a big, ugly panic button—and, frankly, too ugly for even my grandmother to want to wear. I had been programming wearable devices while working at Amazon the summer prior to our company launch and decided to create invisaWear for my senior year project. Before I knew it, everyone wanted it!
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW YOU NEEDED TO DO THIS?
One night after an event, I was walking back to my car when a car full of guys rolled down the window and started yelling inappropriate comments. The car stopped and one of the guys started to get out. Although my phone was with me, I didn’t have enough time to call the police or friends who were still inside, at the event, less than a block away. Luckily, I was able to run and get into my car, unharmed. However, in that moment, I promised myself I was going to do everything in my power to make sure no other woman has to feel so alone and afraid.
YOU SEEM TO BE PROOF OF UML’S COMMITMENT TO FOSTERING ENTREPRENEURS. IS THAT TRUE?
If not for the university, we would not have been nearly as successful as we’ve been so far. The DifferenceMaker program gave us the initial funding we needed to create a prototype, the mentors we were paired with helped us develop our business plan and get to market—and they even introduced us to some of the angel investors that allowed us to bring the product to market. I’m extremely grateful for their support.
WHAT’S THE MOST UNEXPECTED THING THAT’S HAPPENED ALONG THE WAY?
I never in a million years expected this many people to be reaching out writing thank you notes and detailing how much it mans to them to be able to wear our product every day. We get heartfelt messages from women who’ve been in domestic violence situations or abusive relationships telling us how much of a difference our product is making. Every single day, I’m grateful that I took the risk to start invisaWear.
Check out invisaWear at invisaWear.com